As South African pupils prepare for the start of the school year, the Competition Commission has made a call to action for all stakeholders in the education sector to comply with the new guidelines on uniform.
The commission confirmed in November 2021, that schools would no longer be able to force parents to purchase uniform at a specific supplier or retailer. The commission has called on schools to ensure that they adhere to the following guidelines:
- School uniform should be as generic as possible such that it is obtainable from as many suppliers possible
- Where deemed necessary, exclusivity should be limited only to a few “must” items that the schools regard as necessary to obtain from pre- selected suppliers
- Where there are approved suppliers, schools should follow a competitive bidding process
- Schools should appoint more than one supplier in order to give parents more options
- The concluded agreements should be of limited duration so that schools can continuously check the market in order to obtain the best offering for parents
In addition, the commission has published an educational pamphlet on the role that stakeholders should play to help lower the price of school uniform and other learning-related material.
SCHOOL UNIFORM PRICES: TOUGH ACTION FOR NON-COMPLIANCE
The Competition Commission has promised to act against schools which are found to not be adhering to the latest guidelines on uniform.
“The Commission will continue to monitor compliance in this area. This will include a survey that will be rolled out in the next few weeks to assess the level of compliance. Having ran educational and advocacy programs for compliance, the Commission is now ready to prosecute and push for penalties against suppliers and schools that engage in anticompetitive conduct”
The Competition Commission of South Africa’s spokesperson Siyabulela Makunga
These new guidelines stem from complaints raised by parents over the costs of school uniform and exclusive agreements that prevented suppliers from entering the market. Following an investigation, the commission found that exclusive supply agreements between schools and suppliers enabled school uniform suppliers to charge customers higher prices and prevent other potential suppliers from entering the market.
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